One game - one lousy game - separates the top four teams. And the outcome of two games to end the year could mean the difference between possible home games in the semifinals and finals - or a tough assignment on the road.
A win tomorrow versus Bucknell at the STAR would mean a lot more than revenge for the "one that got away", where junior G/F G.W. Boon's six points down the stretch and freshman F Mike Muscala's big free throws erased a 10 point deficit and delivered an 81-76 overtime win at Sojka. It would put Lehigh in the drivers' seat for the Patriot League tournament. Ever hear the expression "the playoffs start now?" You could say that about the game tomorrow - and hopefully Lehigh's basketball team will be celebrating with some ground Bison. (more)
Official men's basketball release - First Place on the line when Lehigh Hosts Bison
First place in the Patriot League and the inside track for the top seed in the upcoming postseason tournament are on the line on Wednesday evening as Lehigh hosts the Bucknell Bison at Stabler Arena. Lehigh saw its two game win streak come to an end on Sunday afternoon as the Mountain Hawks were done in by Lafayette’s torrid shooting in a 90-75 loss in Easton. Freshman G C.J. McCollum did his part, leading the Brown and White in points (28), rebounds (10), assists (6) and steals (4), but it was not enough to overcome a 16-of-29 shooting performance by the Leopards from three-point range. Bucknell enters Wednesday as the hottest team in the Patriot League as the Bison have won four straight games and seven of eight after rolling past Colgate 69-49 on Sunday at home.Lehigh has to shift the momentum from this weekend, when Bucknell demolished Colgate at Sojka while the Mountain Hawks were victims of an amazing shooting afternoon from Lafayette. With Bucknell, you never know who is going to be the hot hand, which includes Boon (15 points vs. Lafayette), Muscala (23 points vs. the Leopards) or even senior F Patrick Behan (24 points vs. Colgate). Key - once again - will be to make the presence felt under the boards with senior F Zahir Carrington and freshman F Gabe Knutson while creating scoring chances for C.J and senior G Marquis Hall.
You can also bet that Bucknell head coach Dave Paulsen will have seen the tape of Sunday's game and how the game can change against the Mountain Hawks if the outside guys get hot. It will be up to the good doctor, Dr. Brett Reed, to do anything he can to prevent that from happening.
It should be a rocking STAR tomorrow. Coverage will also be on Service Electric 2 sports at 7:05, featuring Mike Zambelli and Jim Wills calling the action. The game will also be broadcast on AM 1230 and 1320 in the Lehigh Valley, starring Matt Kerr and Jeff Tourial and audiocast on Lehighsports.com.
The Lady Hawks have done an incredible job this year on so many levels: achieving a 24-3 record, a 32 game home winning streak, an 11-1 league record, and overcoming a five point halftime deficit to notch a 68-58 victory . The last two regular-season games for Lehigh, however, are not devoid of drama. American has also gone 11-1 and made sure that the end of the regular season is anything but a coronation for the Lady Hawks. Wins in their last two games will be crucial.
Official women's basketball release - Lehigh travels in-state to face Bucknell
Lehigh begins the final week of the regular season in Lewisburg, Pa. against the Bucknell Bison Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. The Mountain Hawks are coming off a tough win over their rivals Lafayette on Saturday night where they rallied in the second half to grab the victory. Despite Lafayette shooting 54.3 percent, Lehigh was able to outlast its rival and come away with the victory on Senior Night. Four Mountain Hawks finished in double figures as senior G Alex Ross led the way with a game-high 18. Bucknell comes into Wednesday’s game looking to snap its five-game losing streak. The Bison have picked up three Patriot League wins this season against Army, Colgate and Lafayette.
In their first meeting against Bucknell, the Mountain Hawks were led by their bench as they received a season-high 43 points from their reserves. Sophomore F Emily Gratch led the way as she dropped in a career-high 22 points and was helped by senior G Kristen Dalton who had 12 points and a career-high seven assists. Lehigh also got the ball down low as it had a season-high 46 points in the post.
Worthy of mention too was Ross' performance on senior night, where her 8 of 14 shooting had her lead all scorers with 18 points. Lehigh needed her points, too, as the Lady Hawks went 2 for 11 from 3-point range.
“It wasn’t an X’s or O’s thing, I thought we just had to give more effort,” Mountain Hawks head coach Sue Troyan said about the first half. “I thought we exceeded their intensity level in the second half and that was the difference in the game. We couldn’t really stop them in the first half and we slowed them down a little in the second. I always say when we’re against Lafayette you have to throw the records out because everyone brings their best.”Focus might be an issue against the 7-18 Lady Bison (3-9 in the Patriot League), but it shouldn't be with American ready to take advantage if Lehigh slips up. On the road, Lehigh's defense has carried the day, and sophomore C Alexa Williams once again could be the key in defending junior F Joyce Novacek (9.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg). If the Lady Hawks can win the rebounding battle and play the same stifling defense they've been able to bring all year, they should come out with the victory.
Troyan continued with her thoughts on Ross, “She put us on her back tonight. She wanted the ball in her hands and hit some big shots. Alex was a real difference maker tonight.”
On radio, Jeff Tourial will be doing the call for 91.3 WLVR and broadcast on Lehighsports.com. The video will also be available on Patriot League All-Access.